How to conduct your own in-store package design research

A do-it-yourself approach includes both a product and a packaging audit, as well as thinking about other ways to get your team to think about inspiration’s inspiration.

Before any package-design project is begun, a few imperatives are to understand your consumer, the store environment in which your packaged product will live, and the shelf set in which your product will compete.

If the budget is tight, your creative team (which hopefully includes R&D) will have to do some or all of the investigative work yourself. A good deal of that work will occur in the store; what should you be on the lookout for that can give you clues about maximizing your package design?

According to a post by CPG Branding, here is a partial list of critical steps that should be part of your information-gathering effort about package design in your targeted distribution channels.

1. List the types and names of stores to visit, to get a complete picture of where your consumers are exposed to your product and packaging.

2. Be prepared with the right tools, and ask the store for permission to do store-checks.

3. Conduct a findability check of your category, including your brand.

4. Note how your products are presented on the shelf. Are all products in the family shelved together or are the individual products separated and placed next to competitors?

5. Continue the category audit by taking stock of the packaging forms that exist in your category. Are you a leader or a trailer? Are there any gaps that you can fill, possibly by drawing design inspiration from other categories?

Another possibility: Challenge your creative team to play “what if?” The objective is to think about what your packaging could be. This exercise forces you to look at other categories besides your own, and also to consider unconventional areas outside of the store for design inspiration.

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